East Riding Council have pledged £20,000 to improve Driffield’s roads and pavements following a campaign by disabled residents of the town and surrounding villages.
Nafferton resident, Paul Dawson, 46, underwent a below-the-knee amputation on one leg after suffering from chronic arthritis his entire life.
After spending many years in a wheelchair, Mr Dawson now uses a walking frame and has rallied a group together using Facebook to campaign for improvements to be made to paths and roads in Driffield.
Mr Dawson said: “I started it on the web, over 50 people have liked my page ‘Driffield’s Main Footpaths’ now.
“I am a below-the-knee amputee and I was in a wheelchair for years – the paths are uneven and it is hard to get up some of the kerbs. There are loose paving stones and if you hit them, it can be a problem.
“I want to see it made easier to get around, I’m looking at this from all areas – young mums find it hard with their pushchairs, there are a lot of people in wheelchairs and those who are blind and partially sighted also have issues.”
Mr Dawson organised a walk to identify problem areas on Monday with the Driffield Access Group’s Linda Simpson, Driffield, Rural Ward Councillor for East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) Felicity Temple and ERYC Area Engineer for Environment and Neighbourhood Services Dave England.
Mr Dawson added: “I got in touch with Councillor Symon Fraser who said he’d see what he would do and then I got a call from him to say David and Coun Temple were going to come down and have a look.”
Mr Dawson identified several key areas he believes need improvement in Driffield.
He said: “There is quite a lot that needs doing - Cranwell Road near the doctor’s surgery is very bad, there is a taxi rank there and if they’re parked up near the drop curb there is nowhere you can get up.
“The drop curb near Boyes is too close to the corner so anyone with a wheelchair or a buggy, especially double ones because they’re quite wide, doesn’t have space to turn.
“We could do with a proper crossing near Wilkinsons, the markings are there but there isn’t a proper crossing, people are getting confused.”
Mother-of-two Kelly Middlemas spotted the group on Market Place with her son, Cole who was in a pram and daughter Ocean who was pushing a doll’s pushchair.
Kelly said: “It’s terrible in some places, if you hit a loose paving stone you just stop and go straight into the handlebars.”
The group spent time examining pavements and roads on Scarborough Road, Cranwell Street, Market Place, Westgate and Middle Street North.
ERYC Area Engineer, Dave England joined the group with the news that Central Government funding for road safety to the tune of £20,000 was available to spend on Driffield.
Mr England said: “We have £20,000 left in the pot for Driffield.
“This money has come from Central Government and needs to be spent by March so it is very lucky for me really that we have this exercise today to see what needs to be improved. It is very useful because Paula and Linda can show us the problems that we didn’t think of.
“This money would usually be used for furniture like cycles racks and general improvements to the pathways. It should fund about 10 dropped curb crossings in the town.”
Problems were identified across Driffield during the walk around including many lose paving stones on Market Place at the end of Market Walk.
Street furniture, including advertising boards outside of shops and pubs also proved to be an issue.
Mr England said: “As far as I’m concerned it’s black and white, if it i obstructing the pathway it is illegal.”
66-year-old Linda Simpson from Driffield Access Group is wheelchair-bound.
Mrs Simpson said: “They are not so much a problem for me but for the blind and partially sighted they can be a real issue.
“They are fine if they are there all the time and these people are used to them but if something moves or something new pops up it can be very dangerous.
“Loose paving stones are an issue, if you hit one at speed you just stop and you can get stuck. The camber in certain places also causes a problem, I often have to steer with just one had to keep me straight.
“We are very pleased about the funding - it is an ongoing problem and it won’t be solved overnight but you don’t get it very often so it’s nice to make the most of it while we can.”
Coun Felicity Temple was pleased to represent East Riding of Yorkshire Council at the walk round.
Coun Temple said: “Coun Symon was contacted by Paul but he couldn’t make it today so I came along.
“You don’t realise until you go around with someone like Linda how many problems people in wheelchairs face.
“This is something the council do try to do as much as possible because you can try to imagine issues from other people’s position but it’s not until you see it first hand that you realise how many problems there are.”
Speaking at the end of the walk around, David England announced he would be taking his findings back to County Hall to see where the money could be spent.
Mr England said: “I’m going to go and work out a price and see where the money can best be sent. I’ll be getting in touch with my colleagues and they should be coming along in their yellow vans very soon.”